Los Angeles County had the highest number of cases of sexually transmitted diseases in the United States in 2014, according to a report released this week by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The number of reported cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis in Los Angeles County far outstripped numbers reported in any other county in the United States: there were 548 cases of chlamydia reported in L.A. county in 2014, compared with 456 reported cases of the infection per 100,000 people nationwide. The county saw 153 cases of gonorrhea last year, as compared with 111 per 100,000 people nationwide, while also reporting 12 cases of either primary or secondary syphilis, as compared with six per 100,000 people nationally.
The high numbers of cases of the three diseases in L.A. County are due partly to its larger overall population. Still, rates for all three of these sexually transmitted diseases have continued to grow in California since 2010, even as national rates have remained constant, or in some cases have fallen, according to an examination of the data conducted by the Los Angeles Times.
In 2014, national rates for all three diseases grew significantly; in particular, the 1.4 million cases of chlamydia reported nationwide last year is the highest annual number of any disease, sexually transmitted or otherwise, ever reported to the CDC.
“Certainly, this is the first time since 2006 that all three of our notifiable sexually transmitted diseases have increased,” the CDC’s Dr. Gail Bolan told NBC News. “Some of the increases are quite alarming.”
Bolan said a number of factors are driving the increases in the disease rates, including budget cuts in state and local STD control programs; changing sexual behaviors among gay and bisexual men; and a decrease in condom use in some populations.
Chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis are all curable diseases, but can cause long-term health problems if left untreated. The CDC recommends using condoms during sex to prevent the spread of disease.